Karma Bit Me In The Ass

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Street Performer

1/2000s @ f/5.6 ISO 400 @ FL 200mm

Karma has bitten me in the ass on two consecutive mornings.  There’s a Facebook post going around that always makes me laugh, it shows two German Shepherds side by side. The one German Shepherd has a sign around his neck that reads “Don’t let Karma bite you in the ass.”  The second German Shepherd has a sign around his neck that reads “I’m Karma.”  I adore German Shepherds, and three of my all-time best friends were German Shepherds:  Schatzie, Sarge and Major (may they RIP on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge).

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1/1600s @ f/5.6 ISO 400 @ FL 200mm

Yesterday morning I was sitting on a park bench in the plaza across from the Presidential Palace here in Quito, Ecuador.  Enjoying the sunshine and just minding my business.  A young man with a Nikon camera approached me, and politely asked if he could take my photo.  I am a photographer, BUT I HATE TO HAVE MY PICTURE TAKEN.  The problem is that I take hundreds of pictures of people every month, sometimes with permission and sometimes without.  So I figured I kind of owed someone a photo.  Snap, he took his photo and left with a smile and muchas gracias.

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Sunday’s Finest

1/5000s @ f/5.6 ISO 400 @ FL 122mm

End of story?  Of course not.  Over the next 30-minutes at least 20 people made the same request.  I finally asked one of the photographers what was going on, and it turned out this was a photography class (a very large photography class) out on their first assignment:  to shoot people closeup (with a camera).  If I was teaching a photography class I’m not sure that would be my first assignment to my students, photographing strangers is both difficult and intimidating.  It was agonizing watching them screw up the courage to approach and ask me for permission (they were roaming the plaza in groups of 3 to 5).

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A Boy & His Toy Truck

1/2500s @ f/5.6 ISO 400 @ FL 200mm

Also, I don’t think the instructor communicated his assignment very well.  Most had entry-level digital SLR’s with 18-55mm zoom kit lenses.  And they all had their lenses set to 15mm. Wide-angle lenses suck for portraits, any “Selfie” on FB will illustrate that point vividly (there are exceptions, but they are few and far between).  These poor folks practically touched my nose with their lenses when shooting my portrait closeup.  Distortion will be a huge problem, and my nose will come out looking like W.C. Fields.

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Street Performer

1/640s @ f/5.6 ISO 400 @ FL 200mm

The best FL for portraits is usually about 85-105mm (although I shoot people all time at 200mm with great results).  If they had zoomed their lenses to 55mm, and stepped back a few feet their results would have been better.  Lighting, composition and backgrounds looked pretty grim too. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I certainly wasn’t going to be the Grinch (and the Americano know-it-all) and spoil their morning fun.  It was fun watching their enthusiasm. But for those of you who shoot “Selfies” don’t use wide-angle settings on your cameras or phones, use normal to modest telephoto settings and let someone else actually snap the shutter from a few feet away.  The results will be much more pleasing (trust me on this).  So I paid the Karmic-price for all of those stealth photos I’ve been taking of unsuspecting people.

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Dancing to the Beat

1/1000s @ f/5.6 ISO 400 @ FL 200mm

Karmic debt number two.  At breakfast this morning some old lady (about my age) proceeded to talk my ear off about the German nazis who live on the dark side of the moon (along with the aliens), and control the world through infiltration and mind control.  WTF?  I am being totally honest here, she was clinically WHACK-O.  I don’t do crazy, and this woman was absolutely bat-shit nuts.  What did I do to deserve that?  The photography students I understand, but what Karmic misdeed prompted this visitation from the insane asylum?  I am still reeling.

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Marching with a Glockenspiel

1/1600s @ f/5.6 ISO 400 @ FL 200mm

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Boys in the Band

1/2000s @  f/5.6 ISO 400 @ FL 200mm

Photographer’s note:  These images were all taken this morning during my walkabout (click on images to enlarge for better viewing).  They were all captured as CameraRAW files, with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II full-frame digital camera and Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM telephoto zoom lens.  The RAW files were converted using Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and post-edits (including B&W conversion) were completed using Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 (PSE11).  To enhance contrast in the B&W images I used Levels > Create Levels Adjustment > Input Level (Blacks = 8, Whites = 47, Mid-tones no adjustment).  All images have a light vignette added, Filter > Correct Camera Distortion > Vignette Amount (-50).

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Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer and World Traveler

Quito, Ecuador


2 responses to “Karma Bit Me In The Ass

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